Today & Maslow’s Yardstick

Chances are you’ve seen this graphic before. I believe it’s a pretty clear picture of why poverty hurts the entirety of human civilization, stunting potential contributions to our advancement as a species.

But that’s beside the point for this post. For me, today, it’s a personal yardstick. And this post is a journaling. Because (a) there’s no way I can manage an actual journal on paper, I’m apparently incapable of such privacy, and (b) my blog and Facebook history have proved to be effective tools for long-term self evaluation.

If you want to come along for the ride, that’s cool, I can use the companionship. But if not, that’s cool too, you should probably get out of the car here.

So, Maslow’s Hierarchy, starting from the bottom:

  • My physiological needs are fine, always have been, one of the perks of having been born a Middle Class white guy in 21st Century USA. Same with safety needs; same reasons.
  • Belongingness and love needs, I’m happy to say, are better than I feel I deserve. I use the word “feel” intentionally, because I’m intellectually aware that relationships are give-and-take, and I “think” I’m doing okay with the give part. But emotionally I feel like a drain on those relationships.
  • Esteem needs and self-actualization have been in a decline for a couple of decades, with a pretty steep nosedive over the past dozen years.

Those last few years of employment in educational publishing were brutal, taking me from heading up creation of an e-publishing department to bottom of the editing totem pole. From glowing praise from upper management (I recently found an old annual review letter in my records), to suspecting the only reason I still had a job was unwillingness to fire a long-term employee. All I can say is that I didn’t change; something else did. Call me unadaptable; I don’t think a history of success from factory to medic to LPN to teaching to game design back to teaching would agree.

Having left gaming as an occupation, by family necessity, a few years before taking that job, was its own hammer blow, with one attempt after another to revive that career thwarted. Maybe some other time I’ll explore the topic more in-depth, but for now, I can only say that whatever the creative field, it seems apparent that people follow properties more than they do the creators, something I’ve heard often from even some very big names. It’s worse with work-for-hire.

Even retired and self-publishing, as much as I’ve accomplished, in retrospect I see the nosedive increasingly apparent. I used to power through deadlines; now the very thought of a deadline is crippling. I believed it was the result of a focal seizure disorder; now I’m starting to think the disorder itself may be a manifestation of long-quashed anxiety.

Drawing this post to a close, I remind myself that its original intention was simply to record several weeks of ongoing, devastating “What does anything matter?” depression, and gratitude for a couple of hours when it lifted: Once with surprised smiles while viewing a video link Abraham Limpo Martinez shared, 30 minutes of calculating dice odds, the math involved, and how physically modeling them with dice glued together in shells goes from 2D to 3D to increasing dimensions of hypercubes; and once a Thursday night role-playing session with Steve Sullivan, Kifflie Scott, David Annandale, and my oldest friend, Jim Cotton. (I hope you lot don’t mind my mentioning you by name.) That session was mainly combat demonstrations, starting with Dracula’s three brides, then 20 of his gypsy minions, and then Dracula himself! The last with a perfectly Hammer film style conclusion, Sully apportating a stake for Dracula’s heart, on the same turn the Count summoned a cauldron of bats to drive the heroes away, allowing both sides to escape to fight another day. I better understood my own game design from that session, and learned a great recording trick from Sully!

That last paragraph is the m0st important for this record. The others are just prelude. If you’ve read through it all, here’s the point where I say “Thanks.” You’re one of the folks who help give my life meaning.

Have Pen, Will Travail

Bartolomeo Passarotti, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks for all the well wishes on this whole mental health thing. As to these posts …

Part of me (a big part) is like, “What’s the point? Who the hell wants to hear you whine? What a waste of everyone’s time.”

Another part says, “Wow. A whole lot of friends & acquaintances have gone through this too. It’s encouraging to know you’re far from alone. Maybe it’s encouraging to some of them as well.”

And then there’s the part that says, “Meh. You’re 67 years old & retired. Post whatever the hell you want. It’s not like you’re going to lose a job or something.”

So here I am. A bundle of trepidation, dejection, arrogance, and joy. Make of it what you will. Lord willin’ & the creek don’t rise, I’ll be here tomorrow, wrestling the same questions in this sort of public journal.

I can see my hearse from here!

Over the past several years, I’ve had a few friends, acquaintances, and artists I’ve admired commit suicide. And my immediate thought, like yours probably, has been, “Oh, god, dude. Why didn’t you call? I would have dropped everything to come be with you.”

Some languages have two distinct words for “to know”: one for “I’m aware” and the other for “I’ve been there.”

I didn’t really grasp the misery of asthma until spending a week with an upper respiratory inflammation that had me gasping for air. Didn’t grasp the misery of “fibro fog” until the recurring fog of my own intermittent left cerebral “static.”

Didn’t grasp the depths of depression that can make the simple act of phoning an act of hope, when there is none.

The gallows humor of my title says that I’m not there. Happily, I live with a couple of people who didn’t have to be phoned.

I wonder if things might have been different for those lost friends, if someone had phoned them, instead.

Somewhere between omnishambles and bangarang

Photo by MARIOLA GROBELSKA on Unsplash

There’s an old sci-fi story about a guy who invents a time machine and finds himself lost in a chaos of disconnected events. That eternity is a kaleidoscope of random conjunctions, and what we perceive as each new millisecond is merely when the universe flickers into a pattern that resembles something it was before.

Which is to say, if I’ve promised you something, however small, and haven’t yet delivered, please feel free remind me. (I owe you a fanged smiley doubledice, David Annandale.)